NewsWed Dec 9, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Pro-Life Leaders Launch Opposition to Senate Health Bill Following Nelson Amendment Demise
By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 9, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following the defeat of the Nelson/Hatch/Casey amendment Tuesday evening, pro-life leaders are calling on senators to oppose the Senate health care bill as it heads towards a final vote, which lawmakers expect will happen before the end of the year.
The Senate voted 54-45 Tuesday evening to table the Nelson/Hatch/Casey amendment, effectively killing the language that would have applied Hyde-amendment restrictions on federal funding of abortion to the health care overhaul. The "tabling" vote allowed Democrats to do away with the Nelson amendment without the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster of cloture for the amendment.
The vote came after hours of debate on the Senate floor, with alternating Democrat and Republican speeches at loggerheads as to whether the bill's original abortion language represented adequate protections, as pro-abortion lawmakers claimed, or a vast expansion of abortion, as pro-life lawmakers claimed. Pro-abortion senators also argued that the Nelson/Hatch/Casey amendment was discriminatory against women, and violated women's right to privacy.
Yet pro-life senators maintained earlier Tuesday that the bill's phony "compromise" language on abortion masked a fundamental shift on federal policy regarding elective abortion funding, and called on their compatriots to oppose the bill should the Nelson amendment fail.
"For pro-life senators, this is the vote, but it doesn't stop here," said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). "Even if this amendment doesn't pass, I want to make the case that this bill should not go forward, because it literally will create a system ... to finance abortions. And I don't believe that's what this country wants."
In a letter to Senators dated December 7, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warned that, if the Nelson amendment is rejected, "the current legislation should be opposed." Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said last month that the senate bill was "actually the worst bill we've seen so far on the life issues."
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, condemned the Senate for "allowing this effort at reform to be hijacked by abortion extremists." "Those in the Senate who rejected this Amendment have voted to let their attachment to the abortion industry interfere with health care reform in this country," said Pavone.
The Susan B. Anthony list urged pro-life Senators to oppose the bill "if you call yourself pro-life and genuinely care about preserving true common ground." The National Right to Life Committee has compiled recent poll results that show broad public support for the funding restrictions in the Nelson amendment.
"You can't find greater common ground than the decision to restrict government funding for abortion on-demand," said Susan B. Anthony list president Marjorie Dannenfelser. "With his actions tonight, Harry Reid has effectively tabled the common ground."
"Senator Reid's tabling of the pro-life Nelson Amendment is just the latest reason why incumbents like Harry Reid are becoming top political targets: the disconnect between their words and actions inspire a rising populist opposition," she continued.
"Senator Reid calls himself pro-life, yet he continues to advance the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade at taxpayers' expense."
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Senators Go Head-to-Head Over Nelson/Hatch/Casey Amendment